Trade agreements are meant to level the international playing field by making it easier for businesses to import and export goods and services. But occasionally, you may find yourself contending with trade practices that limit your company’s ability to compete in foreign markets.
Common trade barriers include tariffs and customs, intellectual property protection, bribery, and more. If you encounter a barrier, here are steps to handle it quickly and effectively.
Resolving trade barriers is a complex process that can involve multiple government agencies, and even legislation, so it is best to employ assistance.
The International Trade Administration’s Trade Compliance Center—part of the U.S. Department of Commerce—helps U.S. exporters overcome foreign trade barriers. When you contact the TCC, it will:
- Check whether your issue falls under an existing U.S. trade agreement
- Enlist the help of trade experts from U.S. government agencies
- Utilize resources and expertise to resolve your issue as quickly as possible
If the TCC cannot resolve a trade barrier issue on its own, it will procure help from specialists in other U.S. government agencies. This ensures that swift action is taken to improve the situation.
If you are uncertain whether the trade problem you are facing is covered by an existing trade agreement, report it anyway.
If your company is dealing with a potentially unfair business practice, it is important to bring the situation to the attention of U.S. trade specialists, who can determine whether a trade agreement covers your case and whether a trade barrier must be resolved. To report a trade barrier:
- File a complaint online through the TCC’s Trade Complaint Hotline.
- Submit a written complaint to the TCC by mail or fax.
If the TCC determines that your business is not dealing with a trade barrier, the agency can direct you to other agencies or specialists that may be able to help you.
Learn your rights
Perhaps the best way that U.S. companies can help eliminate trade barriers is by educating themselves about their trade rights. Your accountant, attorney, and other business advisors can shed light on areas such as foreign compliance, laws, and regulations. The International Trade Administration is another helpful resource.
The ITA website offers a host of information about U.S. trade topics, from industry data and analysis to publications to common trade problems. It also links to the TCC side of its operations, where you can:
- Get information about the 250 active U.S. trade agreements
- Use exporters’ guides for quick explanations of trade agreements
- Receive updates about proposed foreign technical regulations
- Find information about commercial, economic, and trade practices and policies in foreign countries
By educating yourself on international trade policies and practices, your company can play a role in future policy development and regulation to proactively address trade barriers affecting your business.
Contact us at (215) 441.4600 if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.